International aid crusader takes out top ACT business award

Media Release, 10 October 2013

A woman who grew up in war-torn Zimbabwe witnessing poverty and discrimination, and who is now shaping the direction of a global aid organisation, has been named the 2013 Telstra ACT Business Woman of the Year.

Making a difference to the lives of millions is what CARE Australia does best and CEO Dr Julia Newton-Howes is at the helm leading its reform agenda.

Her vision for CARE Australia was to have gender equality and women’s empowerment recognised as an organisational commitment because she believed removing barriers for women and girls was the best way to bring lasting change to poor communities. In 2009 the CARE International Board agreed to commit to fight global poverty by empowering women and girls.

Since Dr Newton-Howes joined CARE Australia in 2007 – an organisation of 1000 people – government funding has doubled, private fundraising has increased by 30 per cent and non-program specific funds are up 54 per cent.

On her watch, the Walk In Her Shoes challenge was born where participants take 10,000 steps a day for a week to raise money for global poverty. The campaign draws a parallel with the burden experienced by women and girls in developing countries, who often spend hours every day walking to collect food, water and firewood. She has also partnered with corporates such as The Body Shop, realising $400,000 in funding in just two years, and community groups such as Girl Guides Victoria.

In a push for greater transparency, the former AusAID executive and World Bank adviser upgraded CARE Australia’s website and annual report. Consequently her organisation has been a finalist for two years running in PwC’s Transparency Awards. She also introduced a landmark report on CARE Australia’s impact in Asia over a five year period providing invaluable benchmarking to drive improvement.

Dr Newton-Howes says passion, putting her hand up for new challenges and compelling people to join her journey are central to her career progression.

“I have learned throughout my career that being right or sure about a direction you need to take isn't enough; you also have to persuade other people. I feel lucky to work on issues I am deeply committed to,” she said.

Dr Newton-Howes is a member of the CARE International Board and Vice President of the Australian Council for International Development, the peak body for non-profits working in international development.

Kate McKenzie, Group Managing Director Telstra Innovation, Products and Marketing and Telstra Business Women’s Awards Ambassador, said: “The ACT winners are inspirational business women with extraordinary achievements.

“Judges were impressed by Dr Newton-Howe’s passion for CARE Australia's agenda and her high competencies across the organisation, including effective fundraising. They said her business strategy, which focused on reducing poverty by targeting discrimination, particularly of women and girls, was inspirational and added that she enjoyed high respect and engagement from all her staff in Australia,” Ms McKenzie said.

Winners of the 2013 Telstra ACT Business Women’s Awards are:

Business Owner Award

Louise Curtis, Lollypotz, Canberra
After the success of her hamper company, Hamperesque, Louise Curtis launched Lollypotz in 2009. A ‘chocolate florist’, Lollypotz now has 27 franchises across Australia and New Zealand as well as company-owned outlets, home-based operations and pop-up stores. In 2012, Lollypotz provided 250,000 gifts across Australia and 3,500 in New Zealand. Ms Curtis developed a customised web-based ordering service for corporate customers enabling them to set up their own branded gift range. Judges were impressed with Ms Curtis’ strong business achievements, her leadership, drive and communications skills.

Private and Corporate Sector Award

Anita Borella, GHD Pty Ltd, Canberra
In a male dominated engineering profession, Anita Borella has achieved a great deal in a short time. Ms Borella, a Senior Project Manager and Defence Infrastructure Panel Manager, graduated with a double degree in Engineering (Honours) and Commerce in 2006. Her work for clients to realise projects with capital expenditure of about $700 million requires a focus on vision and the bottom line, and her Defence Infrastructure Panel role receives high-level national attention. She was named Council of Australia's ACT Future Leader of the Year in 2010. Ms Borella’s collaborative leadership on the many high profile projects she manages and her success as an engineer in a traditionally male dominated industry was applauded by the judges.

Community and Government Sector Award

Dr Julia Newton-Howes,CARE Australia, Canberra

Business Innovation Award

Lisa Roberts, Provincial Plants and Landscapes, Pialligo
Co-founder of Provincial Plants and Landscapes, Lisa Roberts has developed a holistic business model incorporating plants, produce, aquaponics, animals, revegetation, landscape design, sustainable agriculture, eco-living and philanthropy. Her business operates on renewable energy, its nurseries specialise in plants grown without chemicals using harvested rainwater, and a polyculture farm produces organic food including fish, eggs and honey. The company donates composting toilets, creates wells, and provides education programs for the community. Judges recognised the innovation in Ms Roberts’ integrated business model, saying while the various parts of her business were inter-related, they could operate independently.

Young Business Women’s Award

Anita Borella, GHD Pty Ltd, Canberra

2013 Telstra ACT Business Woman of the Year

Dr Julia Newton-Howes, CARE Australia, Canberra

The ACT winners proceed to the national finals in Melbourne on 14 November.

CommBank’s Women in Focus program, which opens doors to opportunity for women across Australia, is an Official Partner of the Telstra Business Women’s Awards. The Bank is proud to present each of the category winners with $4,000 prize money. Telstra recognises the ACT Business Woman of the Year with a major prize of $10,000.

More information on the Telstra Business Women’s Awards can be found on the Telstra Business Women's Awards website.